So you may have heard that Marketing is the new customer service. Or perhaps you’ve been reading a lot about the fact that you need to fish where the fish are. Whatever the spin, the contact center of the future needs to be thinking about the consumer of the future. Creating solutions and developing services that enable easy access between the consumer and the brand, taking a more proactive approach to consumer interaction and leveraging the warehouse of rich consumer data that is available to better support and service their organizations, are three areas that today’s future Contact Centers need to be thinking about now.
- Virtual Connectivity: We are a high demand; need it now, on the go society. Mobile usage keeps consumers in touch 24/7. As consumer mobile usage increases, Point of Sale and Point of Service interactions will be critical for brands to continue to succeed. Contact Centers are ideally positioned to support this “on the spot” service. To do this, Contact Centers need to ensure they have technically architected a solution that allows them to support mobile consumer interactions. They also need to think through new metrics such as mobile service levels and agent productivity. For the mobile user, how quickly a brand responds, is critical to shaping their experience. Successful Contact Centers will understand this and have the technology and infrastructure in place to support the expectations of their mobile consumers and then be able to measure the impact of the services that are provided.
- Proactive: Contact centers should be engaging and interacting with consumers regardless of the channel they are on. Social media allows brands and consumers the opportunity to continue the dialogue beyond the initial question. Depending upon the industry, many contact centers are not very serious nor do they expect the consumer to call back when an agent states, “feel free to call us back if you have any other questions.” However for on-line customers, encouraging a comment once a consumer has tried a product or service would not seem out of place. Brands want increased positive word of mouth and contact centers supporting social media engagement can encourage consumers to come back to a page and continue to dialogue post sale or service. In addition, the advent of social media allows contact centers to move from a position of passively waiting for the phone to ring or waiting for a post to appear on a page, to proactively seeking potential engagement opportunities within social media where consumers are struggling to find answers beyond the brands owned or rented social media sites. Brands may choose to simply monitor these conversations, or they may be able to inquire if the consumer is in need of some assistance. But at least they will be armed with data from the contact center that educates them to the potential engagement opportunities beyond a brand Facebook page.
- The Intelligence Center: The opportunity has never been greater for contact centers to play a more strategic role within their organizations. There is such a tremendous amount of data that resides within a contact center that no other area of the organization has access too. Contact centers need to start integrating this data from different channels and mining it for consumer insights. Those insights can extend beyond the brand to include analysis of the competitive landscape, industry related issues & corporate reputation. The Intel that could be provided could serve to assist in driving business decisions and in turn generating revenue. Some have thought of the contact center as simply a cost center. Almost a necessary evil to stay in the game. Let’s start thinking of the contact center as a consumer intelligence center that is a valuable partner in developing strategic direction for the brands they support.
Becoming a contact center of the future is about what you are doing now.
What is promising is that Contact Centers do not need to reinvent the wheel. Good centers today understand what it means to create a positive consumer experience. They understand the power of positive word of mouth, and the risk in allowing negative word of mouth to linger. They understand how to measure productivity and the quality of consumer interaction. The opportunities may be different, but there is always opportunity. Leverage what you do best and apply it to the future.
This guest post was written by John MacDaniel and Barry Dalton.
John MacDaniel, Sr. Director Voice of the Customer, Telerx
John has over twenty-five years of experience in the contact center industry. His background includes contact center operations, training, quality, and customer experience. Since 2008 John has focused much of his attention on social media, with a bent on defining and expanding the contact center’s role in supporting brand social media initiatives. He works with a number of Fortune 500 companies – helping them leverage their contact center operations to provide engagement and monitoring services, as well as providing them a social media reporting solution that integrates traditional contact center metrics with new and emerging social related metrics.
John holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English/Communications from Niagara University. He has presented at industry related conferences such as the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP), American Society of Training & Development and The Contact Center Association. He has also published articles on quality and monitoring in such journals as the International Customer Service Association, Best Practices in Customer Service, Customer Service: A Journal of Theory, Research & Practice, and for the Society of Consumer Affairs.
Barry Dalton, Senior Vice President of Multi-Channel Strategy, Telerx
As the SVP, Multi-Channel Strategy, Barry Dalton focuses on Telerx’s long-term strategy development and implementation. He is a seasoned customer service and contact center leader with over 25 years’ experience consulting with Fortune 500 and mid-market companies in the implementation of customer experience strategies, operating models and leading-edge technologies driving revenue growth, profitability and customer loyalty.
Barry holds a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA in Finance and Strategic Management from Rutgers University. Follow Barry —a self-described “Social Customer Technology fanatic” and “ponderer of the impossible,” and also one of “Zoho’s Top 25 People in CRM to Follow” — at Customer Service Stories…and Other Thoughts.